After his sister’s death sends him into the loving arms of God, Paleontology Professor Travis Perego fights to reconcile the career he’s devoted his life to with his fragile new faith. His struggle between evolutionary theory and the Bible soon attracts the attention of the dean who makes at least one thing clear in Travis’s life. If he doesn’t figure things out soon, he’s fired.
Then a former student tells him of an experiment designed to prove evolution true. Could it be possible to retrace the path of evolution through bird DNA—to reverse engineer a dinosaur? If so, Travis could finally get answers to the questions plaguing his thoughts and threatening his career.
Desperate to know if the experiment succeeded, Travis searches the jungles of Costa Rica for the missing biology professor and the mysterious creature he created. On the hunt to find them, Travis meets Lenaia, a woman with her own reasons to search for the creature. Though both have secrets, Travis and Lenaia agree to work together before their chances of finding the creature—and the truth—evaporate into the thick jungle mist.
From The Book:
Lenaia easily found a path, indicated by broken branches, where a large animal had come through. Tracking itself wasn’t hard, once you knew the clues to look for—a broken twig, a disturbed pile of leaves, a scratch mark on a tree—merely an extension of the observational skills she honed as a scientist. Could have been a jaguar or perhaps the animal the girls had reported. She started to follow the trail, but then stopped. Her real job here was to search for signs of volcanic activity, not some strange animal. She strapped her carbon dioxide gas meter to a belt loop on her jeans. Now, she could do both.
The trail led deeper into the forest, which fortunately wasn’t shrouded in mist right now. She followed for half a mile, confident of the way, until she came over a small rise where all the markings jumbled into a confusing mass. The area was a small clearing with a multitude of human and animal footprints, interspersed with crumpled leaves.
Head down, she scanned the ground, trying to sort them all out. On the east end of the clearing, animal tracks disappeared into the jungle. Maybe the trail resumed there. She took one step into the trees.
Behind her, a twig snapped.
She froze, then slowly turned around.
Three men stood in the clearing. Their bodies formed a wide line in front of her.
A tremor of fear seized her muscles, paralyzing her. The middle one held a rifle, the man on the end gripped a machete.
From The Author:
Dinosaurs have always captivated me. Even though they’re long dead, they live in the crevices of my imagination. So when I read the headline, “Paleontologist Seeks to Create Chickenosaurus,” I had to know what it was about. Turns out, the idea for Rheasaurus, the mysterious creature in Created, Book Two of the Earth Hunters series, would come straight from that news headline.
But first I had to check if this headline was a joke—it wasn’t (Google Chickenosaurus if you don’t believe me). Jack Horner, the paleontologist known for consulting on the Jurassic Park movies, nationally expressed his desire for a biologist to create Chickenosaurus. He believes, if Chickenosaurus (I just love to type that word) can be created, this animal would prove evolution true.
Horner sensibly reasoned that if evolution were true, then it may have left remnants of ancestral traits, called atavisms, embedded within the genome. He thinks that if he could reactivate this ancestral DNA he can create an ancestral form, thus proving evolution true.
The problem with his line of reasoning is that there might not be an ancestral form to create. If evolution isn’t true, then all you’ve created is a messy, identity-challenged chicken. In 2012, some scientists did just that. They introduced a protein bead into a chicken egg and the embryo grew a snout similar to a crocodile. The embryo was destroyed for ethical reasons, but the scientists declared that Chickenosaurus was possible, even though Horner has publicly admitted that Chickenosaurus would be a modified chicken with no dinosaur DNA at all.
While reading the news coverage, it occurred to me that if there’s no ancestral form to re-create, then you’re just messing with a poor chicken and calling it proof. I’m sure you can see the circular reasoning. For this experiment, Horner assumes evolution is true in order to prove evolution true.
As a scientist with a vivid imagination, I completely understand Horner’s desire for proof. I’ve always wrestled with this big question: How did it all happen?
The mysterious creature, Rheasaurus, in my novel, Created, was “created” out of that desire for proof. Throughout the novel, Palontologist Travis Perego chases the creature through the jungles of Costa Rica as he struggles with what to believe about Rheasaurus, and what it means for his fragile new faith. In fact, Travis often treats his faith like a problem to be solved, even an enemy at times. I’ve gone through similar seasons of doubt. Have you ever doubted your faith?
My hope is that you come away from Created with a renewed sense of courage to ask the hard questions. I believe God smiles when we bring our questions to Him, the same way I smile at my 3rd grader when she asks where babies come from. I say to her, “Honey, you aren’t ready to know all the details yet, but it starts with love.” There aren’t easy answers when we examine how the universe was created, but God tells us in the Bible that it started with love.